CiYuan Newsletter | Q4 2012

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In This Issue


China has seen an increase in the numbers of wealthy business leaders becoming involved in philanthropic activitity. In this issue, CiYuan Communications Associate, Nina Zhou, discusses key opportunities and challenges for today’s new-found philanthropists as they begin to emerge onto China's civil society scene.

Also in this edition - news of Friends of Nature’s Green Products launch event at B&Q - in this edition of Ciyuan Toolbox – we highlight five research findings from The Conference Board’s new report, Corporate Philanthropy in China.

Please send any feedback or comments to Brooke Avory.  


Opportunities and Challenges: Family Philanthropy in China

By Nina Zhou, Communications Associate, BSR CiYuan 

Philanthropic behavior is becoming a widely practiced form of civil society engagement amongst China’s wealthy family-run business community. With more and more high profile events taking place, perhaps now is the time to pause, and consider how Chinese civil society can fully realize the societal benefits which well-thought out philanthropic activity can provide. On 30 November, I attended one of China’s most high profile philanthropy-related events called  The China Philanthropy Forum, which brought together government elites, academia, and world business leaders, including the UK's former Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair, to further advance the development of Chinese philanthropy through dialogue between senior leaders of different countries and sectors. What struck me, was the degree to which philanthropy is understood, or perhaps misunderstood in some cases, among China’s business elite. Throughout the event, three key observations became clear; there is a gap in operational strategy amongst the “first generation” philanthropists; there is a misunderstanding of the potential which China's Second Generation Rich (Rich2G) can offer this sector; and finally, there is a lack of value placed on the need to establish a clear set of values, mission and goals in order to measure the success of philanthropic behavior.  

Follow the Money Trail   Chinese philanthropists have yet to engage with what constitutes “best practice” when it comes to philanthropic activity. The most talked-about example at the China Philanthropy Forum was Guangbiao Chen, a Chinese businessman worth over $83 million USD, and famous for his high-profile and often controversial giving approach. His philanthropic activities have included handing out cash directly to those in need, and being photographed in front of a wall of banknotes. He states that his drive for publicity is motivated by his desire to set an example and encourage other wealthy individuals to give. These types of campaigns manage to successfully attract the public’s attention but discussions at the forum indicated that philanthropists need to have a follow-up plan, so they can see how their money is being used, who they are reaching and what impact they are having.  

Family-run Foundations Require a Clear Mission and Values  Over the last 30 years, Chinese “trillionaires” are emerging in increasing numbers and now total 63,000 are part of China’s ‘first generation rich’ who were born between the 1950s and 1960s, and their philanthropic practices are, mostly run through “family-run” foundations. While they are eager to “give back” to society, as they go through this process, they need to think through what the mission and vision is of their foundation and the long terms goals for what the foundation will achieve. In order to be able to do this effectively, and to create real social impact, this first generation of Chinese philanthropists need to develop opportunities to learn about what constitutes “best practice” for foundation operations.  

Misconceptions of China’s Second Generation Rich (Rich2G)  The Chinese Rich2G group, typically young adults who were born in the 1980s and 1990s are often labeled as a group of young people that lack the ability to work hard and get things done. However, most Rich2G have received a world-class education, and some of them are quick and eager to learn new things, and they are more innovative in their approaches to philanthropy than their parent’s generation. For example, Kelly Zong, president of China’s biggest beverage manufacturing Company-Wahaha, and considered as one of the China's most powerful business women, she has demonstrated that young Chinese entrepreneurs can be both business-minded as well as socially driven. With her strong sense of social reposnsibilities, Zong set up the FuLi Charity Foundation in 2007 with the purpose to "contribute to society as much as we could".

Despite how today’s philanthropists approach this practice, their primary goal is to begin with a clear mission, vision, and goals that they want their money to achieve. In many cases, philanthropists need to practice this activity the same way they would approach their corporate careers. This will pave the way for a more robust Chinese social sector and create more impactful outcomes for their beneficiaries. As Tony Blair said in his opening speech, “The measure of a society is not only by what the government does, but by what people do for themselves and others. More than giving the money, philanthropy means for a Change.”  

Please send your views and comments to Nina Zhou

in Brief

Friends of Nature holds Second Round of Green Product Designers Training

Friends of Nature holds Second Round of Green Product Designers Training

Earlier this year, BSR’s CiYuan Initiative helped B&Q and Friends of Nature (FoN) establish a partnership to promote green products and environmentally friendly options for home renovation. As an extension to this partnership, on November 23 BSR and B&Q supported FoN’s second round of Low Carbon Household Renovation Training at B&Q’s Beijing Jingsiji Store. This project builds the capacity of 30 pilot households to integrate low carbon technology into their home renovation design and increases their awareness of using green home renovation products.

For more information please click here 

in Brief

BSR leads panel session at CODF

BSR leads panel session at CODF

On December 6, 2012 The U.S. Consulate General hosted The Community Organizations Development Forum (CODF) which brings the nonprofit community together, to share learning on corporate social responsibility. On behalf of BSR, Jason Ho shared his views on how to better cultivate local business and NGO community to dive deep into CSR through effective Corporate-NGO partnerships.

Please visit CiYuan to read more news.  

CiYuan Toolbox

The Conference Board Releases New Report Corporate Philanthropy in China

The Conference Board, a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest, has released a new research report called Corporate Philanthropy in China, which provides practical guidance to MNCs called social investment in China. The report examines recent trends in China's social sector and provides practical guidance on effective corporate philanthropy in China. It also includes advice on how to develop effective corporate-NGO partnerships to meet an organization's goals and objectives.

Five key findings in the report include:

  • Selecting giving channels that match the company’s presence, experience, and capacity in China.
  • Engaging in research and information gathering for local engagement activity because of the limited availability of public information.
  • Recognizing the strong political boundaries that control topics, scale, and amplitude of public debate and nonprofit activity.
  • Choosing a non-profit partner should include their ability to work together with companies, to execute their strategic goals and not just on the size or affiliations of the partner organization. Project planning needs to factor in the governance, transparency and accountability issues of domestics NPOs. 

The report is available for download here.  


Fortune China CSR 2012 Ranking (InnoCSR, English)

Sustainable Urban Growth: Is Hong Kong a Model for China? (BSR Insight, English)

More Resources

On the Horizon

Upcoming Events

CiYuan Initiative “Phase 1” Best Practice Sharing Event (February, 2013 | Beijing, China)

Leadership Development Conference India (23 - 24 January, 2013 | Bangalore, India)

Corporate Image and Branding Conference (31-1 February, 2013 | New York, US)

Corporate Governance Academy (7 - 8 February, 2013 | Brussels, Belgium)

Supplier Relationship Management Conference (14 - 15 March, 2013 | Chicago, IL)